How to Retain Customers on a Subscription Service and Get Them to Renew

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Once you convince customers to pay you for a service, your next big challenge is getting the renewal. The clock for that starts ticking immediately after the first sign up date. Every action, interaction and decision you make will influence if a customer renews with you or not. 

For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on Skystra’s current recurring services, offered in both monthly and annual subscriptions. For now, we’ll combine both terms for the points in this post, however there are big differences in how to go about things depending on the term. 

With our current plans, customers prefer paying for the year up front in exchange for a discount. We have less than 10% on monthly plans, and this is both a good thing for the business, and also poses a big challenge, which we’ll touch on in a future post. 

How does Skystra get to a 97.2% renewal rate? 

By listening to our customers, and having a laser-focus on providing solid service.

To expand on that:

  • We review every interaction with customers and potential customers
  • We break these interactions into 2 categories : What can we do better, and what we can’t
  • Of those we can do better, it goes either into a technology solution, or a human based solution

The goal for breaking down these interactions between technology or human solutions is to reduce friction for customers. The end goal is for our service to be so seamless, that our customers don’t need to think about it. Their websites should just work. Email should just work. They should be easy to setup, easy to manage, and if there are questions, we should either be able to solve those questions before they even happen, or train our support team on how to help those customers efficiently.

The 97.2% renewal rates ultimately rests on these 4 things done well:

  • Providing solid service
  • Provide industry-leading uptime
  • Provide amazing customer service
  • Helping get customers setup

In nearly all cancellations in the past, the majority, the main cancellation reason was always either uptime related, or what they truly believed were issues with customer service.

The last reason was “How do I get started?”

Those are all big major reasons, however in the highest level view, all of these were fixable, if enough energy, effort and focus were placed on them. 

Uptime was the easiest one for us to solve. Moving from older hardware based servers onto a cloud network, where there are multiple servers all serving the same purpose helped with this a lot. We also hired some very smart people to help with our software stack, choosing new software, configuring it specifically for our uses, and even developing our own software where commercial versions didn’t really fit in. 

Just this alone took over 2 years to complete our major overhaul, and it is still on-going every day. 

Improving customer service was a very human based challenge. It took a massive overhaul of our service department, and detailing all of that in this post would make it entirely too long, it took a solid year of changing our recruiting practices, how we interview candidates, how we train people once they’re hired, early identification of those who wouldn’t work out with us, and many more. Needless to say, customer service has improved dramatically since the early days and our customer renewal rate shows that. 

These are all higher level points. We try to always have an open dialog with customers, and if we are curious about something, we will ask them. Never be afraid to talk to your customers to find out what’s going on, what their own thoughts are about your service and platform. The information is always valuable. 

That’s how we found out that even though we are a technology company, focused on automated cloud services, that the number one reason customers renew with us is Customer Service.